Providing safety training to employees is an important
component of any workplace safety program. OSHA requires employee safety
training for a reason: numerous studies have concluded that roughly 85% of all
workplace injuries are caused by unsafe acts of employees, Only 15% are caused
by unsafe conditions. The most common cause of employees being hurt at work is
due to unsafe behavior. The person does something that he shouldn’t.
Unsafe behavior can take many forms: not following
instructions, not using the correct tool, taking shortcuts, being distracted,
day-dreaming, not receiving adequate instructions or training, rushing, not
taking safety precautions, removing a guard, etc.
The purpose of safety training is to inform employees about
safety hazards and instruct them on the safe work practices to be followed that
will prevent an accident/injury. The best method of accomplishing this is to
include safety information when giving job instructions for the first time. In
this way, the employee is learning how to do a task correctly and safely at the
same time. Safety should not be an after-thought. It should be integrated with
how the job is to be done.
An person’s behavior is a product of his attitude. A person
cannot behave in a manner that is different from his attitude about his job,
his boss, his problems, etc. If a person is not safety conscious and willing to
take risks, his attitude is going to be a strong influence on how he does his
job. Changing unsafe habits requires changing an employee’s attitude about
safety on his job. Safety training should inform but also motivate a safety
conscious attitude. Informing a person not to take unsafe actions that save
time, makes the job easier and no one is watching is a hard sell. But a
All safety training is not equal. Requiring employees to
view canned safety videos may not be as successful as a supervisor talking to
his personnel, eye to eye. The problem with safety videos is that they are not
personnel. And when an employee’s eyes close, so does his mind. What works best
is person to person communication. The person informing an employee about safe
work practices on his job should be his supervisor. That is the person with the
greatest influence on the employee and his attitude about his job and the safe
work practices required.
Safety personnel conduct safety training in groups. The
topic is often OSHA required and visual aids can help prevent employees from
closing their eyes and not paying attention. Requiring some kind of interaction
will help keep people attentive; like calling on people or getting a volunteer
up to the front to demonstrate something, interject some humor.
OSHA information can be very dull. You need to keep
employees involved in the topic or they will tune out.
Conducting safety training will not guarantee that every
employee will be safety conscious and always take the time and make the effort
to use safety precautions. Half of the information presented may be forgotten
by the end of the day. Reinforcement is required. This means reminding
employees about the safe work practices and hazards to be avoided.
Ten-minute safety meetings (conducted by supervisors) will help.
Posters with in-house pictures will help. Making random safety observations of
safe work practices being followed by employees will help
(reward good results).
Another aspect of conducting employee safety training, is
managing the process. Keeping track of the topics required, which employees
have or have not attended, when required training is due, etc. can be
difficult. The solution is to let your computer do the tracking for you.
Investigate safety software like ZeraWare that will track
required safety training by topic, employee, job title and date. This software
even notifies you when required safety training is due, with the topics and the
employees who need to attend. There are other software programs available as well.
Get a free trial and see which software will meet your needs. It will be a
time-saver and prevent an OSHA violation as well.
Thomas L. Zera, C.S.P.
Safety Management Services, Inc.
Williamsville, New York